By Haley Radcliffe, Secondary English Education Major / Brentwood Middle School Intern
Since my last blog post, the accelerated course my teacher and I proposed for eighth-graders exhibiting high achievement in the English Language Arts (ELA) content area has been approved. Once we got the all-clear from parents and administration, we were able to build time into the students’ schedules for them to be able to return to the classroom and engage in specially designed ELA instruction in addition to the instruction they receive during their regular ELA class. My first order of business once the class got approved, then, became figuring out what kind of advanced content would be the most meaningful and worthwhile to introduce to the selected group of students. To do this, my host teacher provided me with an ELA-related word list produced by NWEA, the organization that administers the Reading MAP® assessment, that organized concepts students were ready to learn based on the overall performance score range their individual RIT score fell into. The ELA-related words associated with the overall performance score ranges were wide-ranging, including concepts and topics from “allegory,” to “extended metaphor,” to “sonnet,” to “tone,” to “ironic point of view” and beyond. Deciding what type of content would best address these seemingly disparate concepts was a challenge, especially when considering what material would be appropriate to an eighth-grade audience. After some trial and error in selecting and reading works I thought might address a number of the concepts listed on the NWEA sheet, however, I finally settled on Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” This single poem would be able to address several important concepts, from things like the sonnet itself to ironic point of view to tone, while still remaining at an appropriately rigorous instructional level for a high-achieving eighth-grade audience. Now that the content has been selected, the remaining weeks of my internship will be largely dedicating to designing and teaching lessons based on Shakespeare’s sonnet, and I am so excited to get started!